The American Academy opened its doors, windows, and communal spaces to a public of more than four hundred from 6 to 9 PM on Thursday 20 January 2011 to highlight the work of fifteen of its Italian Affiliated Fellows in the Arts in a show called ACCADEMIA ° STANZE ° PERSONE. The exhibition runs at the Academy until Thursday 3 March 2011.
This show is co-curated by AAR programs associate Lexi Eberspacher and Luca Massimo Barbero, director of Rome’s hugely popular MACRO Museum. It provides a splendid anthology of the best work being done today in Italy in diverse artistic disciplines. For a description in Italian see here; the Facebook page is here. And see throughout this post below for photos of the 20 January event opening.
The Italian Affiliated Fellowship Program began in 2006 and is funded by the American Academy in Rome’s McKim Medal Gala. The show ACCADEMIA ° STANZE ° PERSONE, made possible by a grant from the Nando Peretti Foundation, is intended to celebrate the Academy as a venue for artistic creation by focusing on the work of the fifteen Italian Fellows who have been affiliated with the Academy.
The public spaces (stanze) of the Academy—the art gallery, atrium, bar, billiards room, cortile, cryptoporticus, dining room, salone, and stairs—are reimagined as spaces in which the work of this talented group of architects, composers, designers, poets, and visual artists can be presented.
In the atrium of the McKim, Mead & White building are displayed archeological artifacts and inscriptions, including an ancient torso that has become the subject of an arresting lighting installation by Giovanna Latis, recipient of the first annual Elsa Peretti Italian Affiliated Fellowship in Design.
The versatile art gallery space, which has hosted shows by artists ranging from Piranesi to Maya Lin and from Joel Shapiro to Alex Katz and Alec Soth, has become the venue for Manfredi Beninati’s oil paintings, Paola Pivi’s I wish I am fish, Nico Vascellari’s Gnawing my own teeth behind a closed door, Luca Vitone’s interventions to old engravings, SISSI’s Medusa-like fabric installation Self-Portrait with Mirror, and Luca Nostri’s photographs.
All this is just a prequel to the range of provocative and beautiful art that had been ingeniously integrated into the living spaces of the Academy. In the august public spaces created by the stairs and the salone is exhibited a project by architect Gianmaria Sforza—the documentation of a widespread system of stairways across the hills of Rome, views and key passages, absent and undocumented on maps—and work by visual artist Flavio Favelli and by Giovanna Latis.
In the billiards room, a locus for after-hours sociability, the pool table sports a new cover, on which Flavio Favelli’s image of an original black-and-white postcard of the Vatican City (with interventions in red) establishes a dialogue with the heroic proportions of Chuck Close’s iconic work depicting Alex Katz.
An attentive and ironic look by visual artist Marco Raparelli at the rows of portraits of past Fellows arrayed over the bar results in the infiltration of that portrait gallery with his own work—delightful caricatures of present members of the AAR community.
The Roman light filling the elegant AAR dining room, where the cuisine at the American Academy has been elevated to new heights by the Rome Sustainable Food Project, is now inflected by visual artist Carola Bonfili’s window transparencies reproduced from a sixteenth-century herb dictionary.
In the splendid barrel-vaulted space of the basement cryptoporticus, the voice of the water that used to run below in the Aqueduct of Trajan is silent. But many more recent voices have spoken, including those of the collective Destroy All Monsters in the recent Depart Foundation show Hungry For Death.
Here at the 20 January opening work by Italian Fellows in musical composition Filippo Perocco and Emanuele Casale was performed (respectively) by Ensemble L’Arsenale and the MDI Ensemble. Poets Massimo Gezzi and Guido Mazzoni read from their work (the projected texts abstracted into visual art on the brick ceiling), with Moira Egan and Damiano Abeni reading the English translations.
The show can be viewed at the Academy from 21 January through 3 March from 9.30-12.30 each Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.